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StateWays identifies the fastest-selling wines and spirits in the U.S.

Our 2006 Growth Brands report, based on the latest statistics from the recently released Adams Handbook Advance 2006, identifies the hottest-selling wine and spirits brands on retail shelves and behind bars today.

Looking at 2005 consumption overall, the numbers are impressive: Total distilled spirits just completed the eighth consecutive year of increases with a 2.7% gain, while wine finished year fourteen of ongoing growth by rising 2.2%.

The continuation of these positive trends is no surprise. Now that Americans are comfortable enjoying spirits and wine in moderation, and even the government has nodded to the potential health benefits of moderate consumption, adults in this country are exploring the rich flavors and heritage of established brands and eagerly investigating the newer entries. The cocktail culture is expanding exponentially, and wine continues to attract new consumers even as it satisfies and delights existing fans.

Broader trends also favor the spirits and wine industry. On the macro level, positive economic trends are bolstering consumer confidence. At the micro level, higher fuel prices, the war in Iraq and the effects of Hurricane Katrina may be tempering some discretionary spending, but Americans in general are embracing responsible enjoyment of spirits and wine as an affordable luxury at home and while dining out.

SPIRITS CATEGORY SNAPSHOTS

A closer look at the category trends and individual Growth Brands reveals what's fueling the fire. Total distilled spirits consumption reached 170 million 9-liter cases in 2005, up from 165.7 million in 2004. The 2.7% gain represents a slower rate of growth than the 4.1% in '04 and 3.8% of '03.

"Growth continues in spirits, but not at the rates we saw a few years ago," observed Eric Schmidt, research director at Adams Beverage Group, a division of M2MEDIA360, based in Norwalk, CT. "We're starting to see the effects of having achieved tremendous volume."

Non-whiskey, or white spirits, broke the 125 million case mark with 3.6% growth. Among non-whiskey spirits categories, tequila surged again with an 8.7% gain, rum grew 5.0% and vodka racked up a 4.0% increase. Cordials and liqueurs jumped 3.5%, brandy and cognac climbed 1.2 %, prepared cocktails posted a small gain--0.2%--while gin slid slightly, declining 0.3%.

Total whiskey was essentially flat, rising 0.1% to 44.5 million cases. American and Canadian whiskies tracked along with 0.3% and 0.1% increases, respectively, while Scotch declined 0.9%. Irish whisky proved a bright spot, achieving a 12% increase, though off a very small base.

American consumers' tastes for super- and ultra-premium whiskies helped single malt Scotch enjoy an increase in '05; the sub-category posted 4.0% growth. Foreign-bottled Canadian increased 3.3%, and straight American whiskey experienced a 1.4% gain.

"The bottom line: flavors and premium products are driving spirits," noted Schmidt.

WINE CONTINUES UPSWING

Wine consumption hit 274 million 9-liter cases, up from 268.1 million. Table wine, particularly imported table wine, drove wine sales in 2005. Total table wine achieved 2.5% growth and is now approaching the 250 million case mark. Imported table wine enjoyed a 5.7% gain to reach 63.1 million cases; domestic hit 185.9 million cases with a 1.5% increase.

Beyond table wine, total sparkling wine bubbled up 1.2%; imported sparkling posted a 4.0% gain. Dessert and fortified wines declined 1.9%, while total vermouth and aperitif wines slipped 1.7%.

Domestic wine continues to dominate total wine consumption at 204.4 million cases. Imported wine approached the 70 million case mark, coming in at 69.5 million, which represents a 5.4% gain, a faster rate of growth than domestic wine's 1.1% increase for the year.

Within the framework of these trends, we present the 2006 Growth Brands, a look at the products that are driving the industry, connecting with consumers and, in some cases, creating new opportunities.

INDENTIFYING THE GROWTH BRANDS

The three categories of Growth Brands are designed to organize the wine and spirits brands demonstrating notable growth in a meaningful way, so as to help retailers, restaurants and the industry at large discern the existing and emerging trends and tap the opportunities. The criteria remain the same for distilled spirits and wine.

FAST TRACT BRANDS

Criteria: The brand must have exceeded 100,000 9-liter cases in 2005, with double-digit growth over each of the past four years. All brands must be at least five years of age.

RISING STARS

Criteria: The brand must be less than five full years of age, and must have exhibited notable growth over the past few years.

ESTABLISHED GROWTH BRANDS

Criteria: The brand must be a top seller, moving a minimum of 400,000 9-liter cases annually, and must have grown moderately or substantially over the past four years.
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Title Annotation:GROWTH BRANDS
Author:Crecca, Donna Hood
Publication:StateWays
Article Type:Cover story
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:799
Previous Article:Adams Beverage Group website re-launched.
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